With NBA players being cordial and buddies with one another across different teams these days and social media being so popular, most off court friendships are out in the open.
However, there are quite a number of relationships and camaraderie that go off the radar thanks to the low-key personality or simply well-kept secrets. Below are ten such interesting relationships that extend beyond teammates in the NBA.
1. Steve Nash is the godfather of NBA draft prospect RJ Barett. Being the son of Rowan Barrett Senior, RJ was fortunate that his father was a teammate to Steve Nash on the Canadian National Team. As a result of the close relations, Steve also became the godfather to RJ.
One can only guess how much secret sauce Steve Nash, the former two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, had passed on to his godson. The result of that pedigree is clear, as RJ clinched countless awards, as well as being named the number one ranked player in Canada. Steve actually shared that the two played one-on-one in the summer of 2015 when RJ was very close to winning Steve. All that experience probably has some contribution to the Duke basketball scholarship offer and possibly a lottery pick coming RJ Barrett’s way.
2. Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady were close buddies when they came into the league. Those days without fast internet or social media, players had more personal space.
Tracy and Kobe shared in a recent interview in 2019 that they often called each other over the telephone and shared feedback and tips on plays. The relationship also fueled positive competitiveness that drove both players in their ascension into All-Star statuses. Both admitted that they would totally love to be teammates and dominate the NBA but it was not meant to be. Still, it makes one wonder how would the NBA be different if the two super offensive weapons were to unite on one team. Who would get the last shot?
3. Brad Stevens coached Gordan Hayward when he was in Butler University Bulldogs basketball team and Hayward joined Stevens again in Boston Celtics.
Brad Stevens was known for his composure, cool and calm at all times. Known for his adept communication skills and amazing basketball mind, Brad Stevens and Gordan Hayward share a special bond as Brad helped build the strong fundamentals of how Gordan thinks the game.
Known for his work ethic and discipline, Gordan was the perfect student for Brad. Brad had a system that maximized the potential of his players. His attention to details and shrewdly drawn plays often placed players to succeed with their specialty. With their newfound coach-player relationship in Celtics, the two can probably surprise us with even better performances in the future.
4. Derek Fishers' current partner happened to be Matt Barnes' ex-wife, Gloria Govan. The story is nothing short of soap opera material.
The two NBA players got acquainted as teammates in Los Angeles Lakers. The estranged marriage of Matt Barnes eventually led to their divorce. However, Gloria then became romantically linked to Derek. Matt was notoriously known for his long-distance car drive to confront Derek, then New York Knicks Head Coach in October 2015, of his later involvement with Gloria.
Although the two former teammates never really declared peace or are never seen talking in public again, it seemed like nothing cannot be diluted with time. Matt Barnes have since moved on to a more amicable relationship with his ex-wife as they agree to place their twin's growth as a priority and become the best co-parents for the twins despite their differences.
5. Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah played on the same back-to-back NCAA championship team, the Florida Gaters, coached by the then 11-time college head coach and current NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach, Billy Donovon.
The storied trio made history together as the only college team to repeat in the national titles championship outside of the UCLA team in the 1970s. The premium qualities and champion mindset that coach Billy inculcated into the trio formed a strong foundation that helped Al Horford become an All-Star in his Atlanta Hawks days and a steady veteran leader in his Boston Celtics days, helped Joakim Noah clinch Defensive Player of the Year award during his Chicago Bulls days and helped Corey Brewer establish himself as a solid wing defender and locker room leader to show rookies how to be a professional.
6. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were teammates back in the days when both played for UCLA Bruins.
The dynamic duo were celestial in Pac-10, a sweeping majority of the tournament awards, most notably Kevin Love clinching Pac-10 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as well as Russell Westbrook clinching Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite the seemingly aloof Russell and cool Kevin, the did share fond memories of being in tough battles together on the court, propelling UCLA to the top seed and defeating Stanford to win Pac-10 Championship. Their battles extend even to the dormitory. "We had thermostat battles," Love lamented. "He was doing 74, 75 (Fahrenheit), wake up in the middle of the night, turn that thermostat up. And for me, I'm like 68 (Fahrenheit). But, you know, that little bit of heat really makes a difference.” It goes to show how these two NBA All-Stars go way back and maintain a special bond between them.
7. Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder are all loyal alumni members of the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball team. The connection went on even into the NBA.
Dwyane Wade joined the Chicago Bulls for a brief stint after he left Miami Heat. The integration was made more familiar as Jimmy Butler, a fellow Marquette Golden Eagle alumni, was one of the teammates. Having the same tough and hustle mindset from college, the two made an instant impact as teammates again in Chicago.
In one incident when Timberwolves and Jazz played each other in 2018, Jae Crowder was caught in a verbal tussle in his attempt to back up his teammate, Ricky Rubio, who was shoved by opponent Jeff Teague after some tension. Jae and Jeff were ejected. Jimmy was quick to jump onto Twitter to lash some trash talking to his Marquette compatriot, Jae, citing that Jeff was only right to stand up for Ricky Rubio. Jae returned the trash talking by inviting Jimmy to ‘settle the business’ outside the court if Jimmy had any issues, even going to the extent of inviting Jimmy to call or visit his home.
The Twitter scape was in a frenzy before Dwyane Wade stepped in and clarified that it was just a ‘little Marquette family affair’, explaining that it was just his two juniors having a friendly banter.
8. Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter are cousins who had equally stellar careers. Being on the same Toronto Raptors team when they first embarked on their NBA journey gave the two high flying wingmen lots of time to bond and push their limits.
A little friendly family competition always spices the relationship. Both had an informal slam dunk contest once during preseason games when fans get an aerial visual treat of soaring dunks and insane vertical acrobatics. The ongoing trash talking would eventually see Vince Carter take on the Slam Dunk Contest, one of the best decisions he made for the fans. The rest, like we know, is history.
9. Former NBA point guard, Rod Strickland, is the godfather of NBA All-Star and Champion, Kyrie Irving. Rod had known the Irving family since the prolific point guard was in his third grade. Drederick, Kyrie's father, and Rod were close friends.
After Kyrie lost his mother, Rod helped take care of Kyrie and often spent time together.
Through seeing Kyrie handle the ball in his childhood and playing in Springfield, Massachusetts, Rod first recognized the talent in the future All-Star. Rod was there when Kyrie made those insane practices where he would wrap up the basketball in a trash bag and play with it just so to make it difficult to control and force his dexterity to improve. Rod had also seen the first steps of Kyrie shining when this godson of his absolutely put on a show at the LeBron James basketball camp.
10. Former NBA All-Star, Jerry Stackhouse, was the AAU coach for Brandon Ingram as well as a longtime friend and close mentor. In fact, the two maintains a close apprentice-mentor relationship even til this day.
Brandon Ingram was seen working out his combat moves with Jerry Stackhouse as a form of cross-training during 2018 offseason. Jerry was also caught on record saying that he forecasts that Brandon would become a top ten player within the next five years. This sure goes to show how much support Brandon has had the fortune of receiving from Jerry as a valuable mentor.